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Big green bin deployed throughout Belleville

Story by John R. Moodie

Mouldy breadcrumbs, rotten meat scraps, pieces of putrefied fruit, sun-boiled into a nasty stew, will be served up to hungry garbage trucks on a weekly basis.

Belleville’s compost initiative begins next month. More than 13,000 homes throughout the city have been supplied with green bins. A series of public meetings have been held in the community to inform people about the program.

Are the people of Belleville ready?

“I think we have done a pretty good job of getting the information out in the best way we could,” said Brad Wilson director of environmental and operational service.

Belleville resident Don Kernaghan doesn’t agree.

“No I don’t think they have. I haven’t heard much about it. They just dropped it off one day,” said Kernaghan.

Kernaghan started using his green bin as soon as he got it, but was disappointed when it wasn’t picked up the following week.

“I think it is a good idea, but I am anxious to see it start,” said Kernghan.

The Green bin recycling program is a plan by the City of Belleville to reduce the amount of garbage sent to landfills.

All single residents in Belleville have been given a green bin to collect their organic waste.

Wilson said if more people would have attended the meetings things might have gone off better.

The City of Belleville held five information meetings throughout the city. The first two were held in Thurlow and the remaining three in Belleville.

Wilson said the first couple meetings were sparsely attended. He said with each meeting attendance improved. The last meeting attracted about 80 people.

The meetings were used to educate the public of the benefits and importance of composting waste.

“This is the right thing to do. We have to reduce the amount of garbage going to landfill,” said Wilson.

Wilson said the feedback so far has been mostly positive. He said he expects the program can divert as much as 30% of the city waste into compost.

“We try to give people some confidence that this is a sophisticated way of handling garbage and it is sort of the next level in evolution in waste management for the city of Belleville.”

In the past Belleville’s garbage was shipped to landfill sites in the United States. This new initiative will see Belleville’s waste trucked to a landfill and waste management site 40 minutes north of Cornwall at Moose Creek.

Wilson said even though the waste is being shipped nearby instead of stateside, the costs would stay the same.

“It is not going to save the city money necessarily. Competitive bidding allowed us to keep costs similar to what they were in the past,” said Wilson.

Debbie McMurter, of Corbyville, said she hopes down the road they don’t start charging like they do for garbage.

“We pay enough taxes as it is,” said McMurter.

The city has approved $600,000 for the green bin recycling program. Melanie Zeitz-Morrish, Green bin program manager, said the majority of the budget has been put towards the cost of the bins. Each bin along with a kitchen catcher and booklet has a value of $40.

About $5,000 was used towards a media campaign to make the public aware of the program.  Morrish said no money had specifically been set-aside in the budget for promotion. She said most of the promotion was handled in-house using social media.

“I think we have done a good job targeting every audience possible,” said Morrish.

Wilson said ads were placed in the newspaper at a cost of about $600 each depending on how often the ads were run. He said there are plans to run ads on city buses as well.

Morrish said that people know by now that pick-up begins August 5.

“Once those green bins arrived at their homes it was right there you couldn’t miss it. When it arrives to your home all the information is on it,” said Morrish.

Despite the promotion and public meetings, Belleville resident, Emily Mountain said she wasn’t aware of the green bin program.

“It just kinda was out in front of the house one day. It was just here. No explanation. I was like O.K. what do I do,” said Mountain.

Mountain said it’s a good idea, “but they went about it the wrong way.”

“I am hopeful that the City of Belleville will embrace this opportunity,” said Morrish. “We recognize it is a change of habit for a lot of people.”



Note: this is a updated version of an earlier version of the story. The headline has been altered.